Three quarters, no three-fifths of the student body at the Hochschule [für Musik, in Munich] were foreigners, because Germany tried very hard, from the ’50s onward, to bring international people in. They were trying so hard to overcome that burden of what had happened in World War II. So they sent many people my age or a little older, perhaps, to the United States (I met them later), and they were so friendly to Americans, they understood. And then they gave scholarships to many Americans to further their education and, in fact, many professional opportunities. Many of our opera singers, particularly the African American opera singers, in that period, in the late ’50s and ’60s, went to Germany because they could be hired. And they could not get jobs in this country. You know, our opera stages did not open up to, and even our orchestras, to African Americans until, actually, the late ’80s and ’90s. That’s a long time.
I became involved in the differences that Germany was experiencing between East Germany and West Germany, heard a lot of the music of Bertold Brecht, began to explore those political bents. And so that’s where my politics really began, in Germany.
It was quite a wrench, leaving a town like Chattanooga and coming to a cosmopolitan city like Munich. I had had no political involvement in the States. And I began to understand how one could be politically involved. One of my friends in Munich, a next-door neighbor, enlightened me. I just . . . he had been involved and he said—he was nineteen at the time—and he said, “When I’m twenty-eight, I’ll probably give all this up,” as many students do. You know, heavily involved in college, and then you get to another part of your life and you drop it. But I became involved in the differences that Germany was experiencing between East Germany and West Germany, heard a lot of the music of Bertold Brecht, began to explore those political bents. And so that’s where my politics really began, in Germany.